Ferraria variabilis is a cormous perennial growing an annual tuft of sword-shaped or linear, basal leaves that sheath the stem. The corm accumulates annually in a chain-shape. The plant becomes 20 cm tall, occasionally taller.
The flowers have tepals that form a shallow cup and tips that spread widely with eye-catching crinkling of their margins. Flower colour reflects the variability of the specific epithet: yellow with brown speckles and bands, pale yellow with dark blue bands and speckling, sometimes more. The filaments of the stamens are united in a central column. The style branches are deeply fringed, concealing the anthers. The anthers have two lobes positioned in a fork-shape.
The distribution lies from Namibia to the Little Karoo on sandy and shale flats and rocky slopes (Vlok and Schutte-Vlok, 2010; Manning, 2007; www.pacificbulbsociety.org).